Following an unthinkable and heartbreaking tragedy that saw seven children lose their lives in an overnight house fire, hundreds of mourners of all backgrounds gathered in Halifax on Saturday for an emotional afternoon of healing, prayer and grieving.
The funeral for the Barho children — Ahmad, 15; Rola, 12; Mohamad, 9; Ola, 8; Hala, 3; Rana, 2 and four-month-old Abdullah — was held at the Cunard Centre on Marginal Road.
All seven children perished when fire swept through their Spryfield home just after midnight Tuesday. The cause of the fire remains unclear.
Their father, Ebraheim, remains in hospital after receiving serious burns. He is in stable but critical condition.
The Imam Council of Nova Scotia officiated the funeral. Though it was a traditional Muslim service, all were welcome to attend.
IN PHOTOS: Funeral held for seven children killed in house fire
The service began with the arrival of seven small coffins carrying the children’s remains in a series of hearses at the Cunard Centre.
“I have attended many funerals, but nothing like this. So please bear with me,” said Sheikh Hamza near the beginning of the service.
The funeral was originally going to be held at a local mosque, but the Cunard Centre was chosen to accommodate more people. The facility had an open prayer space, seating for 1,800 people, as well as a standing room.
Over 2,000 people are estimated to have attended the funeral, with a large majority of those being from the local and surrounding Muslim community.
Among the speakers at the service were Nova Scotia’s lieutenant-governor and deputy premier, Halifax’s deputy mayor, and the city’s local member of parliament representative.
During the service, Deputy Premier Karen Casey said the family, who arrived in the province in 2017, was loved when they arrived to the province, and will continue to be loved after the tragedy.
“We are here to support you as you move along a path that very few have ever known,” Casey said.
“We will not abandon you. We will not leave you alone. We will travel this journey with you.”
WATCH: N.S. Deputy Premier Karen Casey pays tribute to 7 ‘beautiful children’
MP Andy Fillmore told the service that the federal government is in the process of trying to reunite the Barhos with their family overseas.
“We love you, we’re here for you today, we’re here for you always.”
WATCH: Government working to reunite childrens’ mother with family: Fillmore
A burial service that was also open to the public followed the ceremony at a cemetery in Hammonds Plains. Buses were arranged to transport people from the Cunard Centre to the cemetery.
WATCH: Burial service takes place for all 7 children killed in Halifax house fire
Saturday fundraisers for the Barho family
As of Saturday afternoon, the GoFundMe page for the Barho family has raised over $575,000. Several fundraisers were held across Halifax on Saturday to help add to that total.
A pancake breakfast was held at the Spryfield Sobeys in the morning, with all proceeds going to the Hants East Assisting Refugee Team (HEART) society, who took in the Barho family in 2017.
Sobeys spokesperson Jacquelin Weatherbee says all stores in HRM and surrounding counties will collect donations for the HEART Society at checkout.
As well, over 50 businesses have committed to donating part of their weekend sales to the Barho family.
To see a full list of fundraisers, click here.
— With files from Rebecca Lau and Alicia Draus.